Guide to best Sony E-Mount 35mm Lenses for a7III/a7II/a7rIV/a7RIII

review sharpness 42mp high resolution sample test vergleich comparison bokeh handling build quality a7riii autofocus af close macro

35mm is a very popular focal length with a wide range of applications ranging from landscape over astrophotography to environmental portraiture and many consider it the best choice when only using one prime lens. We decided to summarize our experience with all the native E-mount and a few legacy 35mm lenses for the Sony A7 series to give you a compact and independent resource for choosing the best 35mm lens for your needs.

Unlike most other review sites we have no association with any lens manufacturer apart from occasionally loaning a lens for a review. We prefer independence over fancy trips and nice meals.

Before any short introduction we tell you how long we have used a lens and if we have borrowed it from a manufacturer. But in most cases we have bought the lenses new from retail stores or on the used market. If you want to support our independent reviews please consider using one of the affiliate links. It doesn’t cost you anything and helps us a lot.

If we have left any question unanswered please leave a comment and we will do our best to answer it.

5 Questions to consider before deciding on a 35mm lens

There is no best 35mm lens for everyone, since individual needs are so different. This is why you won’t find any ratings in terms of stars or points out of 5 in this guide. Instead here are 5 questions to help you reflect on what you need in a 35mm lens. If you already know what you need you can skip to the lenses discussion directly.

1. What will you use your 35mm lens for and which performance aspects matter to you?

A lens might perform very well for one application and fail for others. The Zeiss Loxia 2/35 for example is a favorite of many landscape photographers but we can only recommend against using it for a wedding. Our favorite wedding lens, the Sigma 1.2/35, on the other hand is a behemoth of a lens you probably don’t want to carry on a longer hike. Other lenses like the Sony FE 1.8/35 aren’t the best in any category but cover a wide range of applications well enough. So before deciding on a lens you should ask yourself what you want to use your lens for. Here we present a few scenarios to make it clearer what aspects matter for those.

sigma 35mm 1.2 art dg dn sharpness resolution contrast high 42mp a7rii a7riii bokeh za sony
Sony A7rII | Sigma 35mm 1.2 Art | f/1.2

When shooting a wedding you will probably care most about bokeh, good sharpness across most of the frame from wide open, speed and AF which should be fast and reliable. Price may or may not be an important aspect. Requirements for shooting family are similar with a bigger emphasis on AF-speed for smaller children.

sigma 35mm 1.4 art hsm dg sharpness coma astro astrophotography milky way astigmatism
Sony A7III | Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art | f/1.4 | pano from 4 shots

For astro-photography you want a fast lens with good coma correction and as little vignetting as possible. Many people also prefer manual lenses here.

When photographing a landscape or architecture you will probably care about good sharpness at f/8 or f/11, high contrast, good flare resistance, manual focus experience and maybe nice sunstars or small weight.

2. What is your budget?

You can spend anywhere from $150 to $1500 for a 35mm E-mount lens. You can also adapt a good legacy 35mm for a little over $50. As a rule of thumb more money gets you better optical quality, better build quality, better reliability and faster lenses. There are some rather embarrassing exceptions to this rule of thumb in the E-mount 35mm lineup though.

taken with a $50 Canon nFD 2.8/35

How much should you spend? If you are on a very tight budget but a competent photographer you will get very good results out of a $50 lens but you will have to deal with a few scenarios where you would have gotten better results with a more expensive lens. But keep in mind we all know that guy who reliably gets bad results out of his $4000 Leica lens. Since available income differs so much it is impossible to give a general recommendation here but it is a good idea to consider how much you will use a lens, how much joy you will get out of using it and count that against much how much you will miss the money it cost you.

When considering the price of a lens also look at the long term cost of it. A cheap $350 lens which breaks after 1 year of use costs you $350 for a year of use. A more expensive $600 lens you bought used that can be sold after a year for $550 costs you $50 for a year of use. And it was probably more enjoyable to use in that year. There is also an effect called “early adopter tax”: the value of newly released lenses usually depreciates rather quickly in the first year.

3. Size & Weight

Samyang 1.4/35 | Sony FE 1.8/35 | Voigtlander 1.2/40

The lightest 35mm E-mount lens ist the Samyang 2.8/35 at 86g, while the heaviest lens, the Sigma 1.2/35, weighs 1090g. The three most important factors for the weight of a lens are speed, vignetting and the degree of optical correction. The Sigma 1.2/35 is not only 2.5 stops faster than the Samyang: its optical design is also a lot more complex which results in much higher sharpness and better correction of aberrations. The Sigma also has a lot less vignetting.

Again needs are very different: If you do a lot of hiking you probably don’t want to carry the very heavy Sigma, but a slower, lighter lens. As a wedding photographer on the other hand performance will usually be more important than weight. Lenses also need to fit into your camera bag.

4. How fast does it need to be?

A faster f/1.4 lens allows you to blur your background more than a slower f/2.8 lens and it also lets in more light, allowing for lower ISO or shorter shutter speeds. Faster lenses are usually bigger, heavier and more expensive than slower lenses but there are exceptions to both rules we mention in the discussion of each lens.

So how fast does your lens need to be? If you chose a f/1.8 lens over a f/1.4 lens this will seldom make the difference between a good and a bad picture but it often is one important factor for the look of your images. Also keep in mind that the quality of the blur (bokeh) can be more important than the amount of blur.

5. Do you prefer AF or manual focus?

voigtlander_50mm_1.2_nokton_e_title

Most users will answer that they want an AF-lens. In that case one needs to consider how fast and how reliable AF needs to be.

Some users prefer to focus manually because it makes photography more enjoyable to them. Even some native lenses are manual focus only and they are a joy to use since they have a proper focus helicoid and a smooth focusing ring. Almost all AF E-mount lenses are less pleasant to focus manually because  they are focus-by-wire designs where there is a small but noticeable lag between the moment you turn the focus-ring and the actual change of focus and, secondly, the focus ring offers the wrong amount of resistance or even has some play. Many also have variable (non-linear) throw, meaning that the amount the focus changes when you turn the focussing right depends not just on how far you turn the focussing ring, but on how fast you turn it. In theory this helps you make big changes quickly, and then focus slowly for fine-tuning. In practice many experienced manual-lens-users find it hard to adjust to and very unpredictable.

Native 35mm Lenses with AF

Lens Weight Diameter Length Focus Front Filter  Magnification Aperture Blades Release Date List Price  Used Price
Sigma Art 1.2/35 1090g 88mm 136mm AF 82mm 0.19 11 2019 $1,499 /
Sony ZA 1.4/35 630g 79mm 112mm AF 72mm 0.18 9 2015 $1,599 $900
Samyang 1.4/35 645g 76mm 115mm AF 67mm 0.17 9 2017 $799 $400
Sigma Art 1.4/35 740g 77mm 121mm AF 67mm 0.19 9 2018 $899 $600
Sony FE 1.8/35 280g 66mm 73mm AF 55mm 0.24 9 2019 $749 /
Sony ZA 2.8/35 120g 62mm 37mm AF 49mm 0.12 9 2013 $798 $400
Samyang 2.8/35 86g 62mm 33mm AF 49mm 0.12 9 2017 $399 $210

 

Sigma 35mm 1.2 Art DG DN

sigma 35mm 1.2 art dg dn sharpness resolution contrast high 42mp a7rii a7riii bokeh za sony
Sony A7III | Sigma 35mm 1.2 Art | f/1.2

Status: Bought by Bastian, David and Jannik. Still in use.

  • Amazing sharpness and contrast already at f/1.2 and no field curvature at infinity (resolution everywhere in the frame is as good at f/1.2 as it is at f/11!)
  • Soft bokeh with smooth transitions, for many the best among all 35mm lenses
  • Good to very good coma correction but average vignetting figures (good idea to slightly stop down for astrophotography to get a more even exposure)
  • Above average correction of purple fringing
  • GM handling with aperture ring, AF/MF switch and additional lens button
  • Above average linear distortion which is easily corrected in post
  • Big, heavy, expensive

The 35mm AF lens Bastian has been waiting for so long to couple with his Sony FE 85mm 1.4 GM. Smoothest bokeh in a 35mm lens we have seen yet and certainly the best performing f/1.2 lens in terms of optical qualities you can put on your E-mount camera.
If you are looking for something with these properties you will forget the weight when you see the resulting images.

1090g | $1499 | full Review | aperture seriessample images

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Sony/Zeiss FE 35mm 1.4 ZA

review sharpness 42mp high resolution sample test vergleich comparison bokeh handling build quality a7riii autofocus af close macro
Sony A7rII | Sony FE 35mm 1.4 ZA | f/1.4

Status: Bought and sold by David and Jannik. Loaner reviewed by Bastian.

  • Smooth bokeh in combination with decent contrast at maximum aperture leads to appealing images in many scenarios
  • Field curvature makes it a not so great performer for infinity shooting, especially at wider apertures
  • Shows onion ring structures in out of focus highlights
  • High amount of purple fringing
  • Good coma correction and average vignetting figures
  • Very high sample variation
  • Above average and wavy barrel distortion
  • Compared to the GM lenses no lens button and non linear manual focus by wire
  • Expensive

We know some of you bought one while all the planets in our solar system were perfectly aligned and therefore got a great copy, but in most cases one corner is significantly less sharp than the others, or the entire field is tilted so one side is noticeably less sharp than the other. For anyone in the market for a fast 35mm lens now – considering the alternatives – we cannot recommend this one, especially for MSRP. If you really want the smoothest (and also pretty much onion ring free) bokeh the Sigma 35mm 1.2 Art is the way to go. If the 1.2/35 is to heavy for you, then the Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art offers comparable performance for half the price with far fewer centering issues.

630g | $1499 | full Review | aperture seriessample images

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Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art DG HSM

sigma 35mm 1.4 art hsm dg sharpness resolution contrast high 42mp a7rii a7riii bokeh za sony
Sony A7III | Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art | f/1.4

Status: Bought and sold by Bastian (as soon as the 35mm 1.2 was available)

  • Good sharpness and contrast but also a bit of field curvature, so best used at f/5.6 to f/8.0 for infinity shooting
  • Bokeh is good but not excellent as at longer focus distances double edged structures can become noticeable
  • Shows onion ring structures in out of focus highlights
  • Purple fringing can be visible in harsh light
  • Coma correction is decent and the lens is certainly usable for astrophotography
  • AF/MF-switch, direct mechanical coupling between focus ring and focus group (the only AF lens listed here without focus-by-wire)
  • The heaviest native 35mm f/1.4 lens with AF (95g more than the Samyang)
  • Decently priced

This was Sigma’s first Art lens and they really hit a home run with this one: nice build quality, good optics, decently priced. For most that want a 35mm 1.4 with AF this is probably the most sensible and trouble free option.
It is a well balanced, versatile lens without any major downsides, something we only rarely see.

740g | $770 | full Review | aperture seriessample images

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Samyang 35mm 1.4 AF

Status: Owned by Phillip for some weeks now. Review upcoming.

  • Good to very good sharpness from wide open across the frame, very stopped down with some field curvature.
  • Smooth bokeh most of the time. A little nervous off-center at longer distances.
  • Rather strong CA, average vignetting and flare resistance.
  • Above average astro-performance, usable from wide open.
  • Manual focus is annoying because the default setting (can be changed with optional dock) has a too steep transmission and jumps from one distance to another with too few intermediate steps.
  • No focus button and no AF/MF-Switch. Otherwise decent build quality.
  • Froze Phillip’s a7II several time when he tried shooting a wedding with it.
  • There are quite a few reports of lenses stopping to work after a few months of work.
  • Generous 5-year-warranties from some sellers.
  • Cheap.

It is surprising how good the Samyang is optically if you conside the price. For below $400 (used) it holds its own against the more expensive 1.4/35s from Sony and Sigma. Here it is only bested by the many times as expensive Sigma 1.2/35. While manual focus is annoying AF works quite well, only video shooters will find it to be a bit loud. The downsides lie elsewhere: We are not alone in experiencing cases where the lens froze the camera so that the battery had to be removed. Personally we have had several Samyang lenses fail on us which couldn’t be repaired and from reports it seems like reliability is also an issue with this lens. This is partially offset by the generous warranty from some sellers. So it can be a decent option if you are on a tight budget and don’t depend on it but in general the Sigma 1.4/35 seems to be the better choice if you want a relatively affordable 1.4/35.

645g | $599

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Sony FE 35mm 1.8

Status: Phillip borrowed one from Sony for two weeks where he used it a lot and wrote a review.

  • Good to very good sharpness from wide open across the frame, excellent stopped down.
  • Smooth bokeh most of the time. Nervous off-center at longer distances.
  • Rather strong CA, average vignetting and flare resistance.
  • AF/MF-Switch and Focus-hold button.
  • Very fast and reliable AF.
  • Decent manual focus for an AF-lens.
  • Small and light.
  • Expensive.

While the Sony FE 1.8/35 doesn’t excel in any category it performs well in most of them and has no serious flaws. It is much more portable than the f/1.4 lenses and optically superior to the slower f/2.8 lenses. We would call it the most universal 35mm lens in the system and recommend it to those who don’t want to specialize in one area but cover many with good results. The only issue is that it is pretty expensive at the moment.

Weight: 280g | Price (October 2019): 749$/699€
Review | Amazon.com | B&Hebay.com| Amazon.de (affiliate links)

 

Sony ZA 35mm 2.8 FE

Status: Owned by David and used for some years before being sold.

A very small and light lens which is surprisingly sharp wide open, which helps make it’s relatively slow maximum aperture useful.

  • Quite high resolution at open aperture
  • Good contrast
  • Does not improve much with stopping down
  • Undefined sunstars
  • A bit more glare and contrast drop in backlight than ideal for a modern lens
  • Good AF
  • Fairly high variation as with many early FE lenses. Buy from a source when you can test or return.
  • Nothing exciting about the bokeh in either quality or quantity

This is a very small and light and decently sharp lens that is very attractive for someone who wants a lightweight 35 for hiking or similar purposes. While I expect the new Tamron 2.8/35 to be very likely an even better performer, it will be both much larger and 80% heavier. At its official price the Sony Zeiss was overpriced, but now it can often be found new at very attractive prices, and used at even lower ones.

120g | $600 | Review

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Samyang 35mm 2.8 AF

Status: Owned briefly by David, but returned due to sample issues

A natural competitor to the Sony Zeiss for a tiny pancake 35. It’s even lighter and smaller than the Sony Zeiss, a decent sample would probably be as sharp, though the build is not as nice. I returned mine due to tilt, and decided not to try again because of the hassle of Samyang sample variation.

  • Decently sharp: sharper than most legacy 35s (at least in the areas not subject to the tilt my copy showed)
  • Decent flare control
  • Good CA correction.
  • Wonderfully small and light, and inexpensive
  • OK AF but not as good as the Sony Zeiss
  • Slightly cheap feeling build and hood  (but this by itself doesn’t predict actual internal build quality)
  • My copy had field tilt, and I think you would have to buy from a source that allows many returns.

If you can find a good copy this is very inexpensive and optically decent, and perhaps a good lens to take on expeditions where every gram counts, and where there is the possibility of damaging the lens and you don’t want to take something expensive.

95g | $265 |

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Native 35mm Lenses without AF

Lens Weight Diameter Length Focus Front Filter  Magnification Aperture Blades Release Date List Price 
SLRmagic 1.2/35 Cine 466g 65mm 72mm MF 52mm 0.12 13 2017 $399
Voigtlander 35mm F1.4 Nokton Classic 262g 67mm 40mm MF 58mm 0.16 10 2018 $799
7artisans 35mm f/1.4 275g 63mm MF 46mm 0.13 11 2019 $199
Zeiss Loxia 2/35 Biogon T* 340g 62mm 66mm MF 52mm 0.17 10 2014 $1,299

SLRmagic 35mm 1.2 Cine

review slr magic cine fe 35mm 1.2 f/1.2 full frame e-mount a7rii a7riii 42mp
Sony A7s | SLRmagic 35mm 1.2 Cine | f/1.2

Status: bought, reviewed and sold by Bastian.

  • Lots of background blur for the money
  • Very “classic” bokeh rendering with lots of outlining at maximum aperture, which gets smoother as you stop down
  • Optimized for portrait distance, so at f/1.2 decent sharpness only at this distance and lots of glow at infinity, corners at infinity never look really good
  • Bad coma correction, not a good choice for astrophotography
  • Bad flare resistance
  • Above average vignetting figures
  • Noticeable focus shift
  • Fuzzy sunstars
  • Cine lens with gears therefore not very pleasant to use for photography
  • Comparably cheap
  • No electronic contacts / Exif data

If you are looking for a fast 35mm lens that gives a “classic look” – meaning busy bokeh, mediocre sharpness and contrast and lots of optical aberrations – it is probably a better idea to go for the 7Artisans 35mm 1.4, which will only set you back $199 and is more enjoyable to use.

466g | $349 | full Review | aperture seriessample images

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Voigtlander 35mm 1.4 Nokton E Classic

voigtlander 35mm 1.4 nokton e classic review sony e-mount emount sharpness bokeh rendering vignetting
Sony A7rII | Voigtlander 35mm 1.4 Nokton E classic | f/1.4

Status: borrowed from German Voigtlander distributor by Bastian for a few weeks.

  • Very “classic” (busy) bokeh rendering with lots of outlining from f/1.4 to f/2.0, this gets smoother as you stop down to f/2.8 or further
  • Needs to be stopped down to f/8 to f/11 for decent infinity performance and corners still not looking great
  • Bad coma correction, not a good choice for astrophotography
  • Good flare resistance stopped down, bad flare resistance at f/1.4 to f/1.7
  • High vignetting figures
  • Above average distortion
  • Noticeable focus shift
  • Well defined 10-stroke sunstars stopped down
  • Great handling and build quality
  • Expensive for what it is

I am not a big fan of this lens. At maximum aperture the optical qualities are similar to those of the 7Artisans 35mm 1.4 or SLRmagic 35mm 1.2 Cine, yet it is much more expensive. It is a better performer stopped down though and compared to the aforementioned lenses you get electronic contacts providing Exif data. I would rather recommend getting a used Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art and a new 7Artisans 35mm 1.4 instead for the same money. That way you will have a versatile and useful general purpose 35mm 1.4 lens and a cheap funky one, not only an expensive funky one.

262g | $799 | full Review | aperture seriessample images

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7Artisans 35mm 1.4

Status: Borrowed from 7artisans by Phillip for a couple of weeks.

  • Soft at f/1.4, sharpens up to ok levels at f/2 and never gets very sharp across the frame in part because of the strong field curvature.
  • Very nervous bokeh wide open, smoother at f/2 and smooth by f/2.8.
  • Strong CA, flares and vignetting.
  • Fuzzy sunstars.
  • Very small and relatively light.
  • Very good build quality and excellent handling.
  • Very affordable
  • No electronic contacts / Exif data

A special effect lens with funky rendering at f/1.4, smoother rendering stopped down and lots of aberrations. It is pleasant to handle and affordable. Might be worth checking out if you are after different rendering but we can’t recommended it as a general purpose lens.

300g | $199 | full Review

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Zeiss 35mm 2.0 Loxia

sunstars zeiss loxia 35mm 2.0 fe e blue hour vernazza italy cinque terre sony a7s
Sony A7s | Zeiss Loxia 35mm 2.0 | f/11 | panorama from 5 shots |

Status: bought, reviewed and sold by Bastian. Bought by David and still in use.

  • Exceptional performer stopped down to f/8 to f/11 for landscape/architecture due to high contrast and resolution
  • Soft corners (mostly due to field curvature) at wider apertures
  • “Classic” (busy) bokeh rendering with lots of outlining at f/2.0, this gets smoother as you stop down
  • Low distortion
  • Average vignetting figures
  • Average flare resistance
  • Bad coma performance at f/2.0 to f/2.8, not a good choice for astrophotography
  • Well defined 10-stroke sunstars stopped down
  • Nice build quality (PocketPANO Lens-Grip recommended)
  • Expensive

If you are looking at this one because you are a happy with the Loxia 21mm, 25mm or 85mm you may be disappointed: this one is not playing in the same league.
It is a rather old rangefinder design “tweaked” for the E-mount cameras. It is a very good performer stopped down to f/8 to f/11 though with very high contrast, nice resolution and beautiful sunstars, but the bokeh at maximum aperture is rather busy and often distracting.

340g | $950 | full Review | aperture seriessample images

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Adapted manual focus lenses

Zeiss 35mm 1.4 ZM

sunstar sun sunburst blendenstern diaphragm stroke 10 7 8 14 18
Sony A7rII | Zeiss ZM 35mm 1.4 Distagon | f/11

Status: bought, reviewed and sold by Bastian.

  • Across frame sharpness suffers a lot due to the thick Sony filter stack, this can be improved by adding a 5m PCX filter, but this will make the midzone dip even worse
  • Very high contrast makes it a great lens for stopped down landscape or architecture shooting
  • Mostly smooth bokeh
  • Decent coma correction but not a good choice for astrophotography due to the wavy field and above average vignetting figures
  • Very low but wavy distortion
  • Well defined 10-stroke sunstars stopped down
  • Very nice build quality
  • Very expensive

Suffers too much on Sony cameras due to the thick filer stack to justify its high price tag. The Voigtlander 35mm 1.7 VM simply works much better on Sony cameras.

381g + adapter | $1999 | full Review | aperture seriessample images

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Voigtlander 35mm 1.7 Ultron VM

Sony A7rII | VM 35mm 1.7 + 5m PCX | f/1.7

Status: Bought, reviewed and sold by Phillip. Bought and still in use by Bastian.

  • Corner sharpness suffers a bit due to the thick Sony filter stack, this can be greatly improved by adding a 5m PCX filter. With filter across frame sharpness is already usable at f/1.7
  • Smoothest bokeh of all the manual focus 35mm lenses listed here
  • High contrast makes it a great lens for stopped down landscape or architecture shooting (not as high as Loxia or ZM, but only a very small difference)
  • Decent coma correction with 5m PCX filter and usable for astrophotography
  • Very good flare resistance, probably the best performance we have seen in a 35mm lens yet
  • High vignetting
  • Low distortion
  • Well defined 10-stroke sunstars stopped down
  • Nice build quality (some dislike the knurly focus ring though)
  • Decently priced

If you go through the trouble of adding a 5m PCX filter this smokes many native lenses in several categories. It is one of the few true allround lenses that works well (if not very well) for almost every application you can think of for a 35mm lens. The only real disadvantage: it is not a native lens, which would make it even more enjoyable to use.

238g + adapter | $809 | full Review | aperture seriessample images

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Nikon Nikkor 2.8/35

Status: Bought and still owned by Juriaan.

  • Sharp across the frame stopped down, therefore the Nikkor 2.8/35 is a good budget option for shooting landscapes
  • Flare resistance is quite good, especially for a legacy lens
  • Light and small
  • Great build quality, I really like the handling of this lens.
  • Bokeh can be busy at longer distances but is smooth near MFD
  • CA correction is average, luckily CA is still easy to correct
  • The lens can be used well with extension tubes
  • Only a little barrel distortion, therefore this lens is also suitable for architecture photography

I think the Nikon Nikkor 2.8/35 is a good option for those that like a well build manual lens but are running on a budget. The Nikkor is a decent landscape lens and I used it for that purpose a lot. It is optically in the same league as the Minolta MD 2.8/35, but build quality is nicer.

240g | 110$ | full review | sample images

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Minolta MD 2.8/35

Status: Used a lot by Phillip when he was still a poor student. 

  • Good sharpness from f/2.8 so it can be used for most applications.
  • Very sharp across the frame stopped down to f/8 though with stronger field curvature corners are focused in front of center.
  • Flare resistance is not up to modern standards but not catastrophic either.
  • Light and small
  • Good build quality by modern standards but only average for a legacy lens. See Nikkor 2.8/35 if this is very important to you.
  • Bokeh is mostly smooth, because it has only 6 aperture blades a bit edgy stopped down.
  • Average CA correction and vignetting.
  • Very affordable

The Minolta MD 2.8/35 is a good lens if you like to focus manually and work on a very limited budget. Optically it is about as good as the much smaller modern 2.8/35s. It can deliver very good results even on high resolution sensors. 

170g | $60 | my review | sample images

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Editor’s Choices

All of us have used many lenses and we all have bought and sold some of them for whatever reason. Nevertheless there are a few lenses that simply stick, so we decided to let each of us pick one of the aforementioned lenses and tell you why we like it and/or keep using it.

Bastian’s Choice: Sigma 35mm 1.2 Art and Voigtlander 35mm 1.7 VM + 5m PCX

Sony A7rII | VM 35mm 1.7 | f/5.6

35mm is a very important focal length to me, this is also why I have reviewed so many 35mm lenses: to find the one that best fits my needs. The best allround 35mm lens I think exists is the Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.7, which unfortunately suffers a bit on the Sony filterstack unless you use a 5m PCX filter, which makes it an astonishing lens even on Sony cameras.
It is sharp, contrasty, small, light and has nicer bokeh and better flare resistance compared to most other 35mm lenses. Over the last years this has been one of my most used lenses.

Sony A7rII | Sigma 35mm 1.2 Art | f/1.2

As I also often shoot reportage, concerts and weddings – and neither weight nor bulk bother me much here – I also wanted an AF lens with better subject separation. It really took until July ’19 for Sigma to finally release the lens I was looking for, the Sigma 35mm 1.2 GM Art. It feels and handles like a GM lens and for me is the perfect match to the Sony FE 85mm 1.4 GM, rendering a similarly smooth and pleasing bokeh. In fact it is so good that sometimes I use it even when I travel over the aforementioned Voigtlander.

 

Jannik’s Choice: Sigma 35mm 1.2 Art

Jannik is busy at the moment but enjoys the Sigma 35mm 1.2 Art to take pictures of his son.

 

David’s Choice: Sigma 35mm 1.2 Art and Zeiss Loxia 35mm f2

Like Bastian I’m going to choose two lenses, for very different purposes. The Sigma is almost annoyingly good. Annoying because I am tempted to take this heavy beast on trips were really I would prefer something lighter. But it’s great bokeh and sharpness at wide apertures make it an ideal environmental portrait lens.

For landscape my choice is still the Loxia 35. While it can be fun at wider apertures, no-one could pretend it is a good modern-style performer at those apertures. But stopped down to f6.3 my copy is superb, and give sharpness and very high contrast across the field: perhaps even a bit more so than the CV 35 with PCX (though that is better at wider apertures.) Having said that a great modern compact 2/35 manual lens for landscapes is something I’m still waiting for. A Loxia Mk 2? Or an APO Lanthar?

 

Juriaans Choice: Nikon Nikkor 2.8/35

Until recently I was just another student without any budget for expensive lenses, therefore I only have used one 35 mm lens so far. For now it still does the job. Stopped down sharpness is very good and distortion is low.

a7II | Nikon 2.8/35

However, if budget was no constraint there are some other 35 mm options I would gladly give a try. The Voigtländer (M-mount)1.7/35 would fit my needs very well. It is sharp across the frame, has high contrast and very nice sunstars. It would fit well between my Voigtländer 4.5/15 and Loxia 2/50, which also render 10 stroke sunstars.

a7II | Nikon 2.8/35 | f/5.6

 

Phillip’s choice: Voigtlander 1.2/40

Well… I know, this is not a 35mm lens. I wish it were though, since 35mm are a bit more universal than 40mm and integrate better into many kits. I want my “35mm” to cover a wide range of applications with a focus on landscape and nature photography but I also want to use it to photograph people in different settings. I prefer to focus manually when I am taking nature images and I am competent enough to capture most social settings well with manual focus.

Before this I owned the Voigtlander 1.7/35 which is a little more compact and a bit better technically but it has no contacts so I had no exif and had to change focal length manually when swapping lenses. Also I found the focus ring and limited close-focusing abilities a bit annoying. By getting the 1.2/40 for it I gained much better handling and speed which outweighted the penalty in focal length, price and sharpness. Both the Loxia 2/35 and Voigtlander 1.4/35 don’t perform well enough for me at wider apertures.

I have reviewed a couple of AF 35mm lenses but usually they are annoying to focus manually and they lack nice sunstars and good flare resistance which I want for landscape images. So for know I stick with the 1.2/40 which is by far my most used lens but I still hope that one day there will be a Voigtlander 1.7/35 in E-mount which could be a bit more compact and be a bit sharper with nicer off-center bokeh.

 

Closing Remarks

We hope that this guide can help you in your purchase decision. If any questions are left unanswered don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

Articles like this require many hours of work. If you found it helpful, you can support us by:

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Thanks! Juriaan, David, Jannik, Bastian and Phillip

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The Team

The team, that are four gearheads: Bastian, Jannik and Phillip from Germany as well as David from Australia. All like to use manual lenses and have a passion for the outdoors. None the less they are specialized in different areas so they can provide you with a wider perspective.

44 thoughts on “Guide to best Sony E-Mount 35mm Lenses for a7III/a7II/a7rIV/a7RIII”

  1. I wonder why Cosina haven’t made E-mount version of their 35mm F1.7 with electronic contacts. Lack of F1.7-F2 lenses on E-mount could make it popular, even compared to M version, which has several competitors like Summircron or ZM.

      1. A 2.0/35 APO Lanthar would indeed be welcome. However, since I’ve been using a ZM 1.4/35 almost exclusively for the past six months, I’d be delighted if Zeiss could port that design to a Loxia format to match the Sony filter stack. That would be something.

        1. I can see how that would appeal. Personally my preference is for a more compact manual 35 than that lens could be, and refer an AF lens for super fast use, but of course we all have different needs.

          1. The 35mm f/2 Summicron-M IV might be quite close to what you want–except in price. That pre-ASPH version seems to work well with the Sony filter stack.

          2. Hi, Bastian–

            No, I have no proof that the lens that I mentioned works well on the Sony bodies. I relied on the repeated posts in the dpreview Sony and Adapted Lenses forums by “Rol Lei Nut,” who has for years demonstrated an interest in a wide variety of lenses with an emphasis on a lightweight kit. Over recent years he’s posted information like this:

            https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/62962777

            I’ve been interested in the little Summicron that he’s mentioned repeatedly, but since I already have a 35mm that suits me (except for its weight) I’ve not been interested enough to buy one. If you were to test one and find it good, though. . . .

      2. Thank you for this Bastian. What would you recommend as the best 35 for concert photography…wide open apertures, fast AF, good and not too sensitive MF adjustments when the subjects are more still? I’ve been shooting 50 and 85 primes to date and shoot a lot of shows, but need a 35 prime to add to the bag. Thanks!

          1. size is no bother, but the fast and accurate AF and image stabilization would be my primary parameters, as well as sharpness of course. THanks!

        1. Oh, I meant the Sigma Art 1.4. That’s what I’m leaning towards now that they’ve done the firmware update and dropped the price a bit….

  2. It would have been interesting to have the 7artisans 35mm f2 in your list in order to compare with the others.
    Thanks for your nice work.

    1. We haven’t read a single good word on this lens being used on a Sony camera and considering the super low price of the 7Artisans 35mm 1.4 there is little to no point using that one.

  3. Ich liebe Eure Berichte – duch diese habe ich als überzeugter Fuji – Fan zur A7iii gewechselt – und es nicht bereut.

    Eine kleine Ergänzung, das Minolta M-Rokkor 2/40 mm mit Leica M-Bajonet ist auch eine grandiose Linse.

    Offen noch weich, aber ab F 2,8 besser und ab F4 sehr gut mit tollen definierten, Sonnensternen.

    Wenn beim Team Interesse besteht, leihe ich es gerne für einen Bericht Euch aus.

    Macht weiter so, Gruß ans Team!
    Klaus

    1. Ich sehe die Stärken des Objektivs, wir hatten allerdings schon Schwierigkeiten uns bei den 35mm Objektiven auf die genannten zu beschränken und im Kreise des Teams hat bisher keiner das Objektiv genutzt, da wir alle mehr Wert auf Offenblenleistung und Gegenlichtresistenz legen.

  4. That’s a great summary article, extremely informative! Though I’m in strong doubts, whether I need the 35 mm lens at all, given the presence of 17-28, 28/2 and 55 mm in my kit. This segment already looks overcrowded.

    But, for new adopters to Sony the right 35 mm lens may be a jack of all trades. Probably it worth making a similar article about 50-mm lenses?..

        1. These articles are not that much fun to put together though and we often have debates about balancing out the ratings and apsects of each lens compared to the others.
          Therefore it might take some time before we have the 50mm one(s) ready 🙂

  5. Did you consider Tamron SP 35mm f1.4 in Canon Mount with the MC-11 adapter? Good (or great) MTF and reviews. Thanks for your interesting comparisons.

  6. Very good and thorough article. I’ll keep it in mind..when I got the Canon EF 35/2 IS USM it made my Sony 28/2 and various legacy 35 2,8s redundant (sharper, nicer bokeh). Can’t align my eyes with Sony’s belated 35/1,8’s bokeh, nor its price. The new Tamron 35 2,8 is interesting because I tend to use these at mfd and wide open..but the price in Europe is not near USD349. (USD 349 is approx what you get a used in good condition EF 35/2 IS USM for. With the MC11 its downfall might be the AF that won’t work for AF points close to the sides, nor will any points work in gloomy conditions, but optically and how it feels in the hand it’s a priceworthy thing)

  7. The CV 1.2/40 is absolute magic. And the automatic focusing aids make manually focusing it a lot of fun. If I could afford to… and I might stretch to find a way… I’d use it for stills and grab something slower + cheaper for video. The 35 ART is a good all arounder for the money though.

  8. Amazing how bitter you guys often get over Sony 1.4/35 ZA. Feels like an ex that hurt your feelings really bad. We know how independent reviews can get emotional, right?

    1. I think we all agree about the objective performance of that lens.

      Of course how one feels about a lens; how much that objective performance is annoying varies depending on one’s own personal history with it.
      I was lucky: I got a good copy, pretty even across the frame, on my first try. With good AF, decent contrast, nice bokeh and usable at many apertures I was quite happy with it – especially as it was better than most 1.4/35 lenses released up to that date. Though when I borrowed the Simga Art 1.4 and found it was slightly better (albeit with worse AF) I was surprised. That lens is a lot sharper wide open; enough to be more useful at f1.4 (once again to be fair you can’t say that about any previous 1.4/35)

      But anyone who has gone through many copies (and I know many people, not even necessarily picky ones who have done that) and found them unsatisfactory will be very annoyed. And looking at Rogers variation chart at Lensrentals, you see that you have no idea how one of these will perform – each one is so different. Some are pretty sharp centrally, but crappy at the edges. Others are pretty even, but only OK centrally. Others are sharp on one side of the image, but not the others. I remember and arugument between Rishi at DPR and a friend. Rishi said it was very even – more than Sigma, but much less good in the centre. The other said it was great in the centre, but crap at the periphery. Eventually they realised they were both right about their own copies! So if you have suffered (and it’s not a cheap lens) this way, yes emotion is likely!

      Now if you have a good copy, I wouldn’t recommend selling it unless you want the 1.2/35 Sigma, which is way better than the best copies. It’s also way bigger and heavier, and I can totally understand not wanting that (I went this route, because I use a lighter smaller 35 than either for travel or landscape). The Sigma 1.4 may be a little better optically, but it’s a bit bigger, heavier and has worse AF. There’s no doubt a good copy of ZA gets the job done.

      Bt if you don’t have a 1.4/35, I concur with Bastian that it’s probably not wise to buy the ZA rather than the Sigma 1.4, given what a lottery it is, and the price difference.

    2. I noticed this too. No love for the good, old ZA and all the love for the new heavyweight champion Sigma 1.2, at least until a Sony 35mm F1.4 GM shows up… As I received my ZA when all the stars were perfectly aligned, it “gets the job done” (i.e. produces superb photographs) for the time being. In fact, if I could only own one lens, it would be this 35mm F1.4 ZA. On a low MP body (like my A7III) it is even useable for landscapes stopped down…

  9. A very comprehensive article, nice work! I will add several additional manual 35mm lens options from Voidgtlendar, maybe they can be included in the future.

    (1) Voidgtlendar 35mm F2 Ultron : A rather new lens for Leica M mount. Very good vintage looking lens with modern optical design.

    (2) Voidgtlendar 35mm F1.4 Nokton: The M mount predecessor of the E mount version with very similar characteristics. Price is cheaper and I would say it looks more attractive.

    (3) Voidgtlendar 35mm F2.5 Color-Skopar: A little nice M mount lens, seems working well on Sony body too.

  10. I wish Voigtländer make a 35mm Apo-Lanthar for Sony E-Mount cameras. It’ll be grate if it is f1.7 or f1.8 vs f2.0.
    Or a 35mm f1.2 Nokton E aspherical.
    I love small lenses.

  11. I am quite happy with my Sigma 35mm 1.4 which is on my camera most of the time, but I still find myself using the lens the sigma was supposed to replace, an older canon FD 35mm f2 convex as I think it is does quite well for B&W photos.

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